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Sustainable production
and consumption by
upcycling for the
transition to the
circular economy
Dr Kyungeun Sung
The Impact of Sustainable Design - A Midlands Green Innovation Network Event (20/04/2023)
Upcycling
• Creation or modification of a product from used materials, components or
products which is of equal or higher quality or value than the
compositional elements
• Neologism and umbrella concept
• ‘creative’ or ‘advanced’ repair, reuse, refurbishment, redesign, remake,
upgrade, recreation, remanufacture, recycling,…
• Main practices in circular economy
• Alternative consumption (cf. replacement purchase)
• Alternative production (cf. based on virgin materials)
Benefits of upcycling
• Environmental: extending lifetimes of products, components and
materials > increasing material efficiency > reducing solid waste >
reducing industrial energy consumption > lowering GHGs
• Economic: creating jobs (industry) + saving money (households)
• Social: emotional/psychological well-being (households)
Consumer/citizen upcycling
Sustainable production and consumption by
upcycling: Understanding and scaling up niche
environmentally-significant behaviour
Upcycling in businesses
Challenges and opportunities for scaling up upcycling
businesses: textile and wood upcycling businesses in the UK
Impact activity: stakeholder workshop
Joint workshop and networking between industry and academia: Scaling up upcycling SMEs
Impact activity: community workshop
Being Human 2018 Festival:
Art with upcycling
Impact activity: upcycling competition
Impact activity: upcycling exhibition
International Upcycling Symposium 2020
Special Issue of Sustainability in 2021
International Upcycling Research Network
 UKRI AHRC Research Networking grant (AH/W007134/1): £42,787
 Project start: 01/06/2022
 Project duration: 24 months
 Background: Moving from a niche to a mainstream practice could realise
the full potential of upcycling. Despite recent increase in publications,
initiatives and businesses in upcycling, research is still embryonic.
Development of upcycling theory and practices across industries,
disciplines and countries is required for growth.
 Purpose: the world’s first long-term platform to facilitate such cross-
industry, multidisciplinary and international research
International Upcycling Research Network
 Aim: create positive synergies between various international actors for
collaborative endeavours to understand and promote upcycling
 Two short-term objectives: (i) expand our understanding of current
upcycling research and practices (seminars); and (ii) collaborative
investigation into the global challenges for scaling up upcycling (ISM
workshops)
 Two medium-to-long-term objectives: (i) develop new cross-industry,
multidisciplinary, international collaborative research projects and
initiatives (meetings); and (ii) create the network website as a long-
term platform
‘Upcycling Station’ – a drop-in event as part of the LCB Depot Takeover of the
British Science Festival 2022 in partnership with DMU, co-organised with Dr
Mary O’Neill and her Fine Art students (over 150 community people)
Upcycling station
Upcycling seminar series
Upcycling seminar series
International Upcycling Festival 2024
 Aim: showcase the network activities and outcomes, expand the network, and engage
businesses and consumers for direct impact
 Full paper submission by 31 July 2023
 Day 1 on Thursday 11th April 2024 (9am-5pm) at DMU: academic presentations and
discussions
 Day 2 on Friday 12th April 2024 (12pm-9pm) at LCB Depot: engaging businesses and
consumers for awareness raising, knowledge transfer, new data collection and networking
through a public lecture series, stakeholder workshops, family-friendly activities
 Installations: Poster presentations, film screening, mini exhibitions, etc.
 Gala dinner: informal networking between advisory board and network members
International Upcycling Festival 2024
https://upcyclingfestival2024.our.dmu.ac.uk/call-for-papers/
NPD4CE
 New Product Development (NPD) for Upcycling and Circular Economy (CE)
 Short-term project (2022-2023)
 Funded by DMU (De Montfort University) HEIF (Higher Education Innovation Funding),
£11,086.30
 This project aims to make radical innovations in new product development for upcycling
and circular economy focusing on everyday use electronic products with mixed materials
and multiple components (which are more difficult to remanufacture, recycle, etc.). Three
student designers are working on the project under supervision. The project involves
industry experts/stakeholders throughout the process.
NPD4CE
Supervisors Student designers

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Sustainable production and consumptino by upcycling for the transition to the circular economy

  • 1. Sustainable production and consumption by upcycling for the transition to the circular economy Dr Kyungeun Sung The Impact of Sustainable Design - A Midlands Green Innovation Network Event (20/04/2023)
  • 2. Upcycling • Creation or modification of a product from used materials, components or products which is of equal or higher quality or value than the compositional elements • Neologism and umbrella concept • ‘creative’ or ‘advanced’ repair, reuse, refurbishment, redesign, remake, upgrade, recreation, remanufacture, recycling,… • Main practices in circular economy • Alternative consumption (cf. replacement purchase) • Alternative production (cf. based on virgin materials)
  • 3. Benefits of upcycling • Environmental: extending lifetimes of products, components and materials > increasing material efficiency > reducing solid waste > reducing industrial energy consumption > lowering GHGs • Economic: creating jobs (industry) + saving money (households) • Social: emotional/psychological well-being (households)
  • 4. Consumer/citizen upcycling Sustainable production and consumption by upcycling: Understanding and scaling up niche environmentally-significant behaviour
  • 5. Upcycling in businesses Challenges and opportunities for scaling up upcycling businesses: textile and wood upcycling businesses in the UK
  • 6. Impact activity: stakeholder workshop Joint workshop and networking between industry and academia: Scaling up upcycling SMEs
  • 7. Impact activity: community workshop Being Human 2018 Festival: Art with upcycling
  • 11. Special Issue of Sustainability in 2021
  • 12. International Upcycling Research Network  UKRI AHRC Research Networking grant (AH/W007134/1): £42,787  Project start: 01/06/2022  Project duration: 24 months  Background: Moving from a niche to a mainstream practice could realise the full potential of upcycling. Despite recent increase in publications, initiatives and businesses in upcycling, research is still embryonic. Development of upcycling theory and practices across industries, disciplines and countries is required for growth.  Purpose: the world’s first long-term platform to facilitate such cross- industry, multidisciplinary and international research
  • 13. International Upcycling Research Network  Aim: create positive synergies between various international actors for collaborative endeavours to understand and promote upcycling  Two short-term objectives: (i) expand our understanding of current upcycling research and practices (seminars); and (ii) collaborative investigation into the global challenges for scaling up upcycling (ISM workshops)  Two medium-to-long-term objectives: (i) develop new cross-industry, multidisciplinary, international collaborative research projects and initiatives (meetings); and (ii) create the network website as a long- term platform
  • 14. ‘Upcycling Station’ – a drop-in event as part of the LCB Depot Takeover of the British Science Festival 2022 in partnership with DMU, co-organised with Dr Mary O’Neill and her Fine Art students (over 150 community people) Upcycling station
  • 17. International Upcycling Festival 2024  Aim: showcase the network activities and outcomes, expand the network, and engage businesses and consumers for direct impact  Full paper submission by 31 July 2023  Day 1 on Thursday 11th April 2024 (9am-5pm) at DMU: academic presentations and discussions  Day 2 on Friday 12th April 2024 (12pm-9pm) at LCB Depot: engaging businesses and consumers for awareness raising, knowledge transfer, new data collection and networking through a public lecture series, stakeholder workshops, family-friendly activities  Installations: Poster presentations, film screening, mini exhibitions, etc.  Gala dinner: informal networking between advisory board and network members
  • 18. International Upcycling Festival 2024 https://upcyclingfestival2024.our.dmu.ac.uk/call-for-papers/
  • 19. NPD4CE  New Product Development (NPD) for Upcycling and Circular Economy (CE)  Short-term project (2022-2023)  Funded by DMU (De Montfort University) HEIF (Higher Education Innovation Funding), £11,086.30  This project aims to make radical innovations in new product development for upcycling and circular economy focusing on everyday use electronic products with mixed materials and multiple components (which are more difficult to remanufacture, recycle, etc.). Three student designers are working on the project under supervision. The project involves industry experts/stakeholders throughout the process.